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Application of a Multistate Model to Evaluate Visit Burden and Patient Stability to Improve Sustainability of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Treatment in Zambia



Differentiated service delivery (DSD) for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons who are clinically stable on antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been embraced as a solution to decrease access barriers and improve quality of care. However, successful DSD implementation is dependent on understanding the prevalence, incidence, and durability of clinical stability.


We evaluated visit data in a cohort of HIV-infected adults who made at least 1 visit between 1 March 2013 and 28 February 2015 at 56 clinics in Zambia. We described visit frequency and appointment intervals using conventional stability criteria and used a mixed-effects linear regression model to identify predictors of appointment interval. We developed a multistate model to characterize patient stability over time and calculated incidence rates for transition between states.


Overall, 167819 patients made 3418018 post-ART initiation visits between 2004 and 2015. Fifty-four percent of visits were pharmacy refill-only visits, and 24% occurred among patients on ART for >6 months and whose current CD4 was >500 cells/mm3. Median appointment interval at clinician visits was 59 days, and time on ART and current CD4 were not strong predictors of appointment interval. Cumulative incidence of clinical stability was 66.2% at 2 years after enrollment, but transition to instability (31 events per 100 person-years) and lapses in care (41 events per100 person-years) were common.


Current facility-based care was characterized by high visit burden due to pharmacy refills and among treatment-experienced patients. Differentiated service delivery models targeted toward stable patients need to be adaptive given that clinical stability was highly transient and lapses in care were common.

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